Wonderful Women Wednesday

Taking a mid-week moment to celebrate and thank those standing up and kicking ass

This week is ⚡️PRIYA PARKER ⚡️ a facilitator and strategic advisor. She is the founder of Thrive Labs, at which she helps activists, elected officials, corporate executives, educators, and philanthropists create transformative gatherings. Priya is also the author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters. A bold approach to creating transformative meetings, events and experiences.

Trained in the field of conflict resolution, Parker has worked on race relations on American college campuses and on peace processes in the Arab world, southern Africa, and India. She studied organizational design at M.I.T., public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and political and social thought at the University of Virginia.

As someone who truly enjoys creating gatherings, and seeing how people respond to spaces and each other, this book is my new bible. ‘How we gather matters’ and I couldn’t agree more. I love the approach of not treating gatherings an event planner, it’s not ‘stuff’ that makes gatherings something you enjoyed and not something you can’t wait to leave. It’s purpose and belonging all the way. ‘My job is to put the right people in a room and help them to collectively think, dream, argue, heal, envision, trust, and connect for a specific larger purpose…In my work, I strive to help people experience a sense of belonging’. ‘Gathering – the conscious bringing together of people for a reason – shapes the way we think, feel and make sense of the world.’ As a hyper-sensitive person with a tendency towards social anxiety (as do we all at some point I believe) I say amen to that.

Questioning lecture halls, wasteful business meetings, conferences to birthday parties - asking why we are meeting because ‘a category is not a purpose’ and we don’t need to do it the tired same way.

‘Gatherings crackle and flourish when real thought goes into them, when (often invisible) structure is baked into them, and when a host has the curiosity, willingness and generosity of spirit to try. Let’s begin’. I’m in!

Some side gatherings Priya has co-created include the 15 Toasts dinner series format and I Am Here Days

15 Toasts is a dinner series for global leaders from business, government, and civil society. Serving as “safe spaces,” the dinners invite them to step outside of their day-to-day activities and the official protocol to engage with other leaders in a rich, personal dialogue on valuesleadership, and identity.

#IamHere days are an experiment in city living, presence, and digital unplugging. Priya Parker and Anand Giridharadas began the days in 2012 because they wanted to explore their new city — New York — deeply and continuously, and with friends. ‘All day long we talk. We walk, we talk; we eat, we talk; we browse, we talk. It can feel, in the days we live in, like a subversive act.’

Gathering to walk and talk. We totally down with that.